For today’s blog, I thought that I would talk a little bit about the process of getting a song written and produced.

For me, the process of writing a song starts off with a spark of an idea. Usually it is a short phrase that, for some reason, gets some melody attached to it in my head. When this spark happens in my brain, I need to record it right away (to get it out of my brain so as to have some sort of recoded evidence). Since I usually have my iPhone somewhere close to me, I record a quick sketch on the “Voice Memo” app. After doing many of these little sketches, I have learned that it is best for me to sing through the idea twice. At this stage in the game, I’m still learning the melody myself, or I might have a couple different ways that I sing it. Sometimes these memos can be pretty funny (and awful) as I am wandering around with the melody and words, Sometimes I throw in some simulated drum beats or bass lines so that I can remember what was going through my head at the time.  I might record a few different versions of those rough sketches.


From there, if the song sketch has merit, I will try to work out the rest of the chorus or verse on paper. If I’ve got what I feel to be a legitimate song, then I will try to get a rough draft of the entire song written out. 


The next step is to try to figure out the chords that go underneath the melody. I find a key that will work with my voice range, and then I play around with different chords. I will usually do this either on the piano or guitar and sometimes both (not at the same time, of course!). In this phase the melody often will change rather radically. I may have heard a major chord in my head, but then I try a minor chord, and I like the sound better, which might lead to a change in the melody in the next line. In my songwriting, I often like to try chords that are not typical in the given key and see if the melody will work with this strange chord.  I also find that putting the instrument underneath the melody will take a song in surprising places. It’s one thing to hear an imaginary band in your head, it’s another thing to actually play an instrument along with the melody.


At this point, I’m still usually working with pen and paper.


I consider the transition from paper to typed up on the computer to be the first significant edit or draft of the song. At this point, the song is “ready” enough for me to take the time to type out a full edition. Unless I have some structure of verses and chords, it’s not worth it to me to put it on the computer yet. I still like crossing things off with pen and editing that way. Once the song is typed up and printed from the computer, then I’m ready to play around with the song some more and do some more fine tuning.


I’ll outline how the song progresses from there in the next blog post.


Fr. Kent


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